There are Asiatic lilies splayed out on my dining room table this Christmas season, their stark-white petals exploding like stars amongst the evergreen branches and berries. As I turn the corner after descending the stairs into the kitchen, their fragrance envelops me.
I can’t really say why I was drawn to this particular bouquet. The lilies had not yet bloomed, but the promise was there. The gorgeous evergreen branches and stems of red berries were all eagerly awaiting the triumphant entrance of snow-white lilies in all of their glory. It just wasn’t picture-worthy . . . yet.
As the days flew by, the lilies opened one by glorious one. I felt a calmness every time I glanced at our emerging bouquet, and the items on my to-do list faded away. I felt as if the flowers were cheering me on in my quest to cherish this time and make it a special day with my family. There was one hold-out, though. Even on Christmas Day, there was one lone lily, front and center, who refused to bloom. I decided not to take it personally. Not everything will be perfect in this world, no matter what the occasion. We really did have a wonderful Christmas together.
Christmas can be a difficult season for some, or dare I say most(?) of us. It can be a time of exorbitant expectations, of the push and the rush to fulfill dreams and promises of perfection and picturesque memories. It can be simply exhausting. And we moms are inordinately hard on ourselves. We take on, not only the tasks and duties of Christmas magic, but also the feelings and emotions of it all. We see the need and want of those around us—our loved ones, and even the strangers we encounter. We long to put it right and to genuinely savor the moments of peace and love promised by this most sacred feast.
There is a beauty and a pain at Christmastime. We know why the Christ child was born—to be put to death. And we know why this must be—to save us from ourselves, from sorrow and self-inflicted pain. We kneel in somber adoration, in awe of this most precious child, as the crown of thorns hovers overhead, and the sound of the coming nails rings in our ears. WE are the cause of this precious child’s birth—and WE are the cause of his excruciating death. It is sobering and sombering, as well as joy-filled and mercy-blessed.
So, yes, lilies were the perfect choice for my Christmas centerpiece this year—a foretelling of the Christ child’s death and resurrection. It became a pause, a time to reflect on his innocent birth and the incredible act of sacrificial love that will be his death. And, finally, a glorious bursting of everlasting life for all children of God.
An insightful reflection on the “two-edged sword” that is Christmas. May we all treasure each joyful moment even as the sword hovers overhead.